Travelling to Japan without a JR Pass

NO JR PASS? NO PROBLEM! Here’s how we traveled to Japan without a JR Pass.

I have been hearing my friends getting JR pass every time they go to Japan, but when I heard the price, I am just not certain to get one for only 3-5 days’ vacation, because for me JR Pass is only worth to buy for if you are really moving a lot and if you are traveling on different regions. I know that there are a lot of blogs regarding JR pass but on this blog, I will share how we moved around Osaka and Tokyo-Kyoto-Osaka without using a JR Pass.

In July 2019, we went to Osaka for the BTS concert— my friends targeted the BTS concert, so I opted to go to Kyoto. I already posted my guide on How to Get to Kyoto from Osaka without a JR Pass on another post. Below are the other options on how we got around Osaka in July.

Single Journey Ticket
+ We used a single journey ticket from Osaka Airport to our station which costs JPY 900.
+ Namba to Osaka Airport is JPY 900.

ICOCA Card” We used the ICOCA card for our 3 days trip around Osaka.
– ICOCA card – JPY 2000 with a credit of Y1500. I just bought another card because I lost Tee’s card.
– ICOCA card reload – JPY2000
– Osaka – Kyoto – Osaka Rapid & Local Train – Roundtrip is almost JPY 600

Kyoto Sightseeing Bus | Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour‎
– I took the Kyoto Sightseeing Bus on my first visit to Kyoto (July 2019) for JPY 600.

Japan Transportation

This is how a JPY600 bus pass looks like.

x-o-x-o-x-o

FFWD to our recently concluded trip, Mai and I went to Toyko-Kyoto-Osaka without a JR Pass. It’s her first time going to Japan without it as I told her that I just would like to go on a budget and without spending Php 13000 for the JR pass. So, here’s how we get around Japan without it:

Exchange rate: JPY 1 = 2 PHP JPY PHP Mode of Payment
Day 0  – November 25, Monday – Arrival
Narita to Tokyo Station by Kesei bus 900 450 Cash
Tokyo Subway 24-hour Ticket 800 400 Cash
Day 1 – November 26 – Tokyo
Akihabara – Pokemon Mega Center Tokyo (Toshima) 150 75 Cash
Day 2 – November 27 – Kawaguchiko to Kyoto
Tokyo Station – Kawaguchiko via Kanto bus 2000 1000 Cash
Kawaguchiko – Tokyo Station via Kanto bus 2000 * 2 2000 Cash
Kawaguchiko Sightseeing Bus (Red-Line) 1500 750 Cash
Willer Bus to Kyoto 4700 2350 Cash
Day 3 – November 28 – Kyoto
Kyoto Subway, Bus One-Day Pass 900 450 Cash
Day 4 – November 29 – Kyoto & Osaka
2-day JR West Rail Pass – Kansai Area Pass 4600 2300 Credit Card
Total 15550 9775

+ I didn’t include that we paid 2 * JPY 230 for the flat fare bus in Kyoto from Oyo Hotel and a JPY 160 for a train ride because we lost our way back to Kyoto Station… and that there’s actually a nearest JR station in Oyo but thought that it’s easier to ride a bus, but then we missed to drop in Kyoto station. 

Here’s the full details regarding the passes that we used:

Exchange rate: JPY 1 = 2 PHP

Day 0  – November 25, Monday – Arrival

  • Narita to Tokyo Station by Kesei bus
    Tokyo Subway 24-hour Ticket
    Fare: JPY 1700

When we arrived at Narita Airport, we bought these passes. We only paid JPY 1700 because it’s their on-going promotion if you buy these passes together. If bought separately then it’s JPY 1000 for the Kesei bus and JPY 800 for the Subway 24-hour ticket.

You may read more information about this here: https://www.tokyometro.jp/en/ticket/travel/index.html

Japan Transportation

Day 1 – November 26 – Tokyo

  • Akihabara – Pokemon Mega Center Tokyo (Toshima)
    JR Single Journey Ticket: JPY 150

As one route from Akihabara to Sunshine City mall at Ikebukero is not included in the 24 hours subway ticket. We went to Akihabara to buy Gundam merchandise as well as Switch accessories. We then went to Sunshine City Mall to check out Pokemon stuff.”

Day 2 – November 27 – Kawaguchiko to Kyoto

  • Tokyo Station – Kawaguchiko via Kanto bus vv
    Roundtrip Fare: JPY 4000

Where to get the tickets going to Kawaguchiko? At the Tokyo Station, look for the JR Expressway Bus for you to buy your tickets.

JRKanto highway bus to Kawaguchiko – Read more at:
https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2366.html
https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e6905.html

  • Kawaguchiko Sightseeing Bus (Red-Line)
    2 Days Bus pass fare: 1500

Read more information at regarding the Kawaguchiko/Saiko/Naruasawa/Shojiko/ Motosuko Sightseeing Bus at

1. http://bus-en.fujikyu.co.jp/heritage-tour/
2. http://bus-en.fujikyu.co.jp/heritage-tour/detail/id/1/

Japan Transportation

JR Expressway bus – where we purchased our tickets to Kawaguchiko.

Willer Bus to Kyoto
Bus fare: 4700
Reservation link: https://willerexpress.com/en/

Day 3 – November 28 – Kyoto

  • Kyoto Subway, Bus One-Day Pass
    Bus fare: JPY 900

More information regarding Kyoto City Subway/Bus Sightseeing Pass: https://www2.city.kyoto.lg.jp/kotsu/webguide/en/index.html

Where to purchase Kyoto City Subway/Bus Sightseeing Passes?  On my first visit, I just purchased it from any counters in the subway. The other office is just outside the Kyoto main station, in front of 7-11.

Once you already have the Subway/Bus Pass map, make sure to read everything on their very handy kit as it has important information regarding (1) how to board the bus on specific bus numbers, (2) how to use a pass card, (3) on how to make the bus stops on your designation (3) how to read the bus signs (4) bus information and phone numbers (5) lost and found phone numbers and stations (5)and of course the SUBWAY MAP, THE BUS NUMBERS AND ITS STOPS.

There are still restrictions on valid zones for each pass, so make sure to note that. The flat fare in Kyoto for adults is JPY 230 and for kids is JPY 120 and is subject to additional fare charges. So you are saving a lot of money when you are using this pass.

We purchased the JPY 900 Subway, Bus One-Day Pass. We just went around Kiyomizedera Temple, Nishiki Market, going to and fro to our hotel.

Japan Transportation

This is how a JPY 900 Subway/Bus pass looks like.

Day 4 – November 29 – Kyoto & Osaka

  • 2-day JR West Rail Pass – Kansai Area Pass
    Fare: JPY 4600

Read more information & reserve your tickets at:
https://www.westjr.co.jp/global/en/ticket/pass/
https://www.westjr.co.jp/global/en/ticket/pass/kansai/

Where to claim in Kyoto? If you are not sure on how to claim your booked tickets, you may approach staff from the JR Bus Office and someone will teach you how to retrieve your tickets. It comes with vouchers so be sure to read the inclusions so that you will know how to maximize your pass. 

We purchased this pass for our last 2 days in Osaka. We used this when we went to Arahisyama and Fushimi Inari. The same pass that we used from Kyoto – Osaka, Osaka JR West rail and from Osaka – Narita Airport.

Japan Transportation

The 2-day JR West Rail Pass.

Japan Transportation

The 2-day JR West Rail Pass inclusions and the vouchers. 

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Always remember that the staff will always ask your passport whenever you purchase these passes as these are only for the tourists. This is just a rough estimate if you are going this route, but if you have well planned your itinerary, you can just spend lesser than this.

Travel Date: November 25-30, 2019

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